The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Their Online Shop
Merry Christmas Eve! I hope that you're spending time with family and friends, and eating as many Christmas cookies as you can. :)
If opening an online shop is on your list of things to do after the holiday season, or if one of your resolutions is to step your game up with your current online shop, this post is for you. I have rounded up the top 10 mistakes that online shop owners make when getting their shop set up, with lots of extra media, like free downloads and videos, to dive deeper into each subject.
Also, I wanted to let you know that I will be offering an in-depth eCourse on this very subject in the coming months (aiming for February or March). The course will be for Etsy seller newbies and will teach you how to get your shop started the RIGHT way the FIRST time, as well as walk you through video tutorials of exactly how to get your shop and social media accounts set up. I think it will be great for those of you who are a bit intimidated by technology, or just unsure of how to get started. The course will be called Craft Biz 101 - be sure that you're signed up for my email list so that you can stay in the loop, and be informed when the class becomes available.
Okay, that's enough babbling - let's get right into it! Here are the top mistakes that new online shop owners make...
1. They Throw Together A Business Name Without Much Thought
When you first open shop, you might be tempted to just make your shop name "Holly's Art" or something simple and obvious. I would recommend that you take the time to plan out the best and most unique name for your business that you can. A lot of that process has to do with narrowing down your shop's niche and your target customer. The other aspect of naming your business is making sure that the name is not already being used. You want to make sure that your-business-name.com is available, and ideally, that there are no other businesses with the name at all. That way, when people google your name, your shop comes up first. This is a brainstorming process that takes time, but that is so worth it.
2. They List Random Products Without Thinking About A Cohesive Product Line
If you create products that are all very nice, but have nothing to do with each other, your shop won't make sense to your visitors. Again, having a clear idea of your brand, niche, and target customer will help you to stay on track, but it may also mean cutting out a few products that don't fit cohesively with your other offerings in order to create a beautiful shop with items that complement each other.
Read More >> How To Create A Cohesive Product Line
3. They Don't Set Up An Email List
I would shout it from the rooftops if I could: Get yourself an email list! I'm big on using social media to promote your shop. But you know what? Social media is always changing. Trends come and go (remember MySpace?). Email doesn't change! Email has been around for a long time now, and doesn't show signs of going away any time soon. Collecting emails from interested fans and followers gives you a direct way of connecting with them and has a higher ROI (return on investment) of any social media network. I use Mailchimp for this, and it's pretty simple to set up and use.
4. They Don't Secure A Domain Name For Their Business
Even if you're opening a shop through Etsy, Big Commerce, or another shop platform, you should still secure "your-business-name-here.com". As your shop grows, you will need a website, and it's better to go ahead and secure that space now than to wait until you need it later (and it might not be available).
5. They Don't Invest (Time or Money) In Quality Product Photography
Good photography is sooo important for an online shop. If you have a fairly small product line, it may be worth it to invest in a couple of hours with a professional photographer whose style is in line with yours. If that is out of your budget, you can even DIY your photos with your iPhone using my video tutorial here. By "invest", I simply mean take the time to do it right. What is important is that your photos are clear, in focus, bright (not dark or yellow), and cohesive from product to product.
6. They Have No Idea Who Their Target Customer Is
But what if your products are for everyone? You're doing it wrong. You can't be everything to everyone, and knowing who you're selling to is crucial to the success of your shop. Take the time to brainstorm who your ideal customer is and use that information to help you with your unique brand and product line.
7. They Don't Price Their Work For What It's Worth (Especially Handmade Businesses)
So many new business owners, especially in the handmade marketplace world, are afraid to charge what their products are really worth. This has a few different negative outcomes:
- You don't make enough money for your work and your time.
- Potential customers assume that your product is of lower quality.
- It undervalues the entire handmade community.
Read More >> How to Price Your Handmade Products
8. They Don't Set Up Social Media Accounts
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know the importance that I place on social media. Utilizing social media was the sole strategy that I used to grew my online shop from nothing to a successful full-time business. Even if you don't have a specific strategy in place yet, you should at least secure a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest account.
9. They Don't Invest In Quality Brand Identity Materials
Oh the tragedy that is an online shop filled with beautiful products, paired with a logo that contains Comic Sans (the horror!). By this point in this post, you've probably noticed a trend in my advice towards putting in the time and money to do things right from the very beginning. That's not to say that you need to spend a ton of money, but please don't try to DIY your logo and branding if you know nothing about design. Either hire a designer, or purchase a premade branding kit like the ones that I sell in my branding shop, for a cheaper option.
10. They Don't Tell Anyone About It
You would be surprised how many aspiring online shop owners I have spoken with who were keeping their shop a secret! You also might be surprised to know that I myself was scared / embarrassed in the beginning to tell people about my online shop. Three years later I will tell you that this is so silly!
- You shouldn't care what people think. You know that already.
- People are, for the most part, extremely supportive. No one is going to think you're crazy for trying to start your own business and if they do, reference point Number 1 again.
- Keeping your business to yourself means that no one will find out about it which means that you'll make no money. Even if the person you tell about your business isn't your ideal customer and you fear that they won't "get it", they probably know someone who would. So, get your name out there! Be proud of your business!
By the way, I'm currently launching my first course, Craft Biz 101, which walks you through the process of planning out your Etsy store, developing products that people want, shipping and fulfilling your products, and getting consistent traffic to your shop.
The course includes 28 lectures, with step-by-step video tutorials, worksheets, and more. I'm taking you start-to-finish through the process of opening your Etsy store the right way from the very beginning. This is the information that I wish I would have had when I first opened my online store, and some insider tips that will give you and your business a head start.
If you sign up for Craft Biz 101 before January 11th, you'll receive the special 20% off pre-sale pricing. Hope to see you there!